The Heart Of Our Farm
Shetland sheep have lived on the Shetland Islands for over 1000 years. Prized for their fine wool, they are a primitive unimproved breed of sheep. Most likely descendants of ancient Scandinavian sheep. Shetlands are small in size with rams having large spiraled horns and ewes are usually polled. These sheep are calm, charming, docile, and intelligent.
Although Shetlands were on the endangered species list in the 1960's, they have made a strong comeback due to select breeding programs and now have a secure future.
Our Shetlands are the heart of our farm. We keep a small flock of 15 sheep. When spring arrives so do the lambs! This year we were fortunate to have all healthy babies, 7 boys and 3 girls.
The sheep eat the grass and brush on the property and help keep things looking trim. We shear them once a year when it heats up. This makes them more comfortable, and we use their wool for spinning yarn, fiber crafts, and making our lovely hats!
OUR WOOL & PRODUCTS
Shetland sheep are prized by hand spinners and fiber artists for their wool. It is fine, soft, and strong. Fleeces average 2-4 lbs and vary in crimp. Our Shetland fleeces are single coat with an average of 23 microns and an average staple length of 4 inches. 11 colors and 30 color patterns are recognized in this breed making each one different from the next.
We also have hand-made hats for purchase in our Shop. Our beanies start with our Shetlands raw wool. It's washed, carded, and then spun on a spinning wheel to create yarn that is then hand knit or crocheted. Every piece is unique and captures characteristics from our individual sheep. You will know which sheep contributed their wool by name and photo. It takes an average of 8-10 hours to complete one hat start to finish. Lots of care and heart goes into these gifts.
Ancient traditions renewed
The process of transforming wool into yarn is an ancient art of our ancestors. There's a different look, feel, and energy to a finished product when it's been hand-made from raw materials. Like an artist stretching the canvas before paint hits the brush.
It all starts with the sheep. Our flock is sheared end of March when it starts to warm up and before the lambs are born in April. Once shorn the fleece is lightly skirted. Skirting is he process of removing the smaller pieces near the legs and the dirty piece near the tail. Reserving the prime blanket of the wool. When laid out on the table it's intact and looks just like it did while on the sheep.
What do the sheep think? They are more comfortable going into the warm summer months and shearing is necessary proper care of this breed. Each fleece weighs up to 4 or more pounds.
In the photo is our ram "JR" investigating each fleece on the shelf after being shorn. He kept going back to his own. I can just imagine what he was thinking!
Learn more about the process of making yarn below.
SPINNING WOOL INTO YARN
When you pick up a raw fleece -meaning it's in it's natural off the sheep state- you feel a connection to the animal that grew it. It's then that it is lovingly washed by hand multiple times until the water runs clean.
Clean fleece is then put through a picker. Basically a box with nails that helps pull the locks of wool apart so its easier to card. Carding is the tedious but gratifying process of aligning and smoothing the fiber. There are several ways to card wool. I use a hackle and comb, as well as a drum carder. Photos of the process are below!
After carding you have what is called a wool batt or roving. The roving is what's used on the spinning wheel. It's gently held and fed into the spinning wheel where it's twisted into a single ply. It takes 2 of these single ply yarns twisted together to create the yarn we use for our beanies. I estimate it's a 8-10 hour process to create just one hat. But the look and feel is like nothing you can buy in the store or on Amazon.
Each skein of yarn, each final product is unique to the sheep that it came from and the hands that created it. When you purchase our products you are purchasing ancient traditions that have defied time. Thank you!